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What Are DOMA's Effects on LGBT Couples?

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No tax-free employer benefits are provided.

Because of DOMA, gay and lesbian spouses can’t take advantage of certain tax-free benefits from their partner’s employer unless they qualify as a dependent of the employed partner.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Thanks to DOMA, employers aren’t required to offer medical leave to LGBT employees to care for their partners, even if the couple is legally married. But you can take time off to care for your child, and under an interpretation of the law by the Obama administration, even the one of you who isn’t a legal or biological parent may also be entitled to leave.

Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA): Because the federal DOMA defines an employee’s spouse as being someone of the opposite sex, it’s unclear as to whether or not an employee’s same-sex spouse is eligible to receive his or her deceased spouse’s pension.

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA): DOMA excludes married LGBT couples from automatic protection for spouses and children if the employee is fired, gets divorced, or dies — leaving it up to employers to choose whether or not to continue coverage.

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